via Asian Archaeology, 04 October 2023: This paper by Foe et al. explores the integration of land suitability modeling with the study of monumental architecture in Southeast Asia, focusing on Early Modern Period Indonesia and Medieval Cambodia. By combining architectural analysis with agricultural suitability modeling, it addresses the relationship between religious practices, political economy, and regional landscapes.
In Southeast Asia, the landscape approach through multi-sited regional analyses has generally been viewed as incompatible with studies of monumental architecture. A focus on style and iconography, combined with difficulties in collecting spatially dispersed and large amounts of architectural data, have traditionally resulted in the two approaches becoming separate lines of inquiry in Southeast Asian archaeological research. In other study areas, regional analysis has been effectively used to answer anthropological questions regarding religious, political, and economic change. We explore the relationship between changes in religious practice and the political economy in Early Modern Period Indonesia and Medieval Cambodia through agricultural suitability modeling. This approach allows for the integration of architectural analysis into broader regional-landscape studies to explore issues of statecraft.